What's in a (nick)name?

Hi, my name is Krista, or so I'm told.

Mom named me Krista under the predication that no one would call me Kris. That just wouldn't do. And that's OK. But instead, Krista lost an "s," gained a "t," and thus "Kritta" was born.

Kritta. What does that mean? I don't know. Where does it come from? Still I remain puzzled. It's not much easier to say than Krista, is it? Kri-sta. Kri-tta. Well, it does roll off the tongue a little easier. I'll give it that.

Most everyone I know has picked it up like a bad habit. Mom, Dad, Sister. Entire extended family. Friends. Even that One Guy at work. That One Guy I talk to maybe once a day. Maybe. It just spewed forth from his mouth one afternoon. Believe me, I did a double-take.

"Kritta!" He called across the newsroom one day. Puzzled, I slowly turned around. Dad? Is it you? No. So I looked at that One Guy, cocked my head to the side, and he carried on about his business as if it never happened. I whispered quickly to a friend, "Did he just call me Kritta?" She nodded.

Huh.

This nickname phenomenon has gotten drastic. To hear my actual name is almost as awkward as being called Ms. InsertLastNameHere. What? I'm not a Ms. And I'm not Krista, either. My own name has become a formal address. I generally hear it only from strangers, new acquaintances, timid boyfriends or Mom. When I'm in trouble. Yes, I still get in trouble at the ripe old age of (almost) 24. Come to think of it, I can't remember one instance in my whole life when I've ever heard my Sister call me by my name. She actually introduces me as Kritta.

"This is my sister, Kritta," she says. To which I then receive a puzzled glance with a furrowed brow. I can nearly see the wheels turning in the Stranger's brain. Did she just say Kritta? I look from Sister to Stranger and simply shrug. Is there a point in admitting my real name? Probably not. Stranger will end up calling me Kritta within seven minutes, anyway.

I guess I bear some of the blame for Kritta becoming rather widespread. Most of my instant messenger screen names and all my personal e-mail addresses have included some form of "Kritta." But really, what do you expect? It's my name.

But it doesn't end there. Kritta has spawned a slew of knock-offs: Krit, Kritter, Kritty, Trotta, Trot, Kritter-Pitter, Kritta-Pitta, Kritta-Bitta... Uh huh. You can see where this is going. My mind is a jumble. Who am I? I stumble when I introduce myself. I can't sign my own name.

However, I've learned to accept Kritta for what it is: my name. Krista? Who needs it. It just gets confused for Kristy or Kristal or something. It may sound a bit awkward in 50 years when my children are bringing the grandkids to visit "Grandma Kritta," or when my Future Husband (whoever He is) takes "thee Kritta" to be his lawfully wedded wife. But I won't have it any other way.

So let me reintroduce myself. Hi, my name is Kritta.